Wat's Dyke: 375m long section immediately south of Middleton Road and west of Laburnum Drive


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020619

Date first listed: 25-Mar-1937

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003


Ordnance survey map of Wat's Dyke: 375m long section immediately south of Middleton Road and west of Laburnum Drive
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 22:34:13.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Oswestry

National Grid Reference: SJ 29679 29344


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Wat's Dyke is a linear earthwork boundary marker and defensive rampart. It runs for about 60km from Basingwerk, on the Dee estuary, southwards to Maesbury near Oswestry. It consists of a large ditch, 5m wide and 2m deep, with a bank on the eastern side. The bank is 10m wide at the base, on average, and its original height was about 2.5m. Wat's Dyke runs roughly parallel to Offa's Dyke which lies to the west, sometimes only 500m away. Both dykes run along the borders between England and Wales, and it is clear that both dykes were constructed to defend land on the eastern side from incursions coming from the west.

The earthwork bank and ditch ran without interruption except where the course of a stream or river cut through it. The date of construction has not been accurately determined, but it is considered that it was built at an earlier date than the parallel Offa's Dyke, although it fulfilled the same purpose. The Dyke forms a boundary between lands firmly in control of the Anglo-Saxon overlords and lands more recently taken from the native Britains by the English. Subsequently land to the west of the Dyke became part of what is now known as Wales. The line of the Dyke has been shown to mark a division between hidated (land assessed for taxation on the basis of the Anglo-Saxon units known as `hides') and unhidated land (land under a different system of government) at the time of the Domesday records. This suggests that the Dyke was constructed before the `hide' system was put into practice during the reign of King Offa of Mercia. The Dyke was probably built during the period of expansion of the kingdom of Mercia before the accession of Offa, possibly during the reign of Aethelbald (AD 716-757).

This 375m long section of Wat's Dyke immediately south of Middleton Road and west of Laburnum Drive survives as a low bank overlooking a natural terrace with traces of a ditch at the base of the slope on the western side. It has a high public profile in the central area of a large housing development and it will provide a source for recreational enjoyment and educational value for the surrounding population. Soils at the base of the bank and in the bottom of the buried ditch will contain evidence for the management of the landscape when the Dyke was built and also evidence for the layout and construction of the defences.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of the boundary known as Wat's Dyke. This section runs for 375m from Middleton Road, southwards to a point 10m south of the car park area for the Evangelical Church at the southern end of Laburnum Drive. The southern section runs partly through private gardens to the west of Laburnam Drive. The earthwork bank, about 4m wide at the base, was constructed along the crest of a natural terrace known as Shelf Bank, and a ditch about 3.5m wide, was dug on the western side. The remains of this defensive work are about 18m wide in all. At the northern end of this section of the Dyke the remains have been severely damaged by road construction and excavations for the houses and their gardens to the east of Brookhouse Road. A further section of the Dyke, 10m to the south of this section, is the subject of a separate scheduling.

All fence posts, telegraph poles and garden sheds are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33876

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Worthington, M, Wat's Dyke, (1993)

End of official listing